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VRoamer Generates On-The-Fly VR Experiences While Walking Through Buildings

VRoamer is a new Microsoft Research project that generates VR worlds on-the-fly while users walk through unknown building environments. Players can wear their HMD and no longer have to rely on artificial locomotion techniques such as teleportation. They simply walk through their environment and the game is built around them. This is possible through the use of a wearable tech camera that scans the environment in front of the user and visualizes a playable virtual world. The system paints its virtual environment over real world objects such as doors. The system keeps the user safe from objects in the real world, even though those objects are hidden to the user. Transitions are done through corridors that are constructed to the available space in the user's environment. Players can open real doors to progress the game and the corridors may contain weapons, enemies, keys, etc. Objects that suddenly appear in a user's environment such as other people may become skeletons or traps.

In this paper, we present VRoamer, which enables users to walk unseen physical spaces for which VRoamer procedurally generates a virtual scene on-the-fly. Scaling to the size of office buildings, VRoamer extracts walkable areas and detects physical obstacles in real time using inside-out tracking, instantiates pre-authored virtual rooms if their sizes fit physically walkable areas or otherwise generates virtual corridors and doors that lead to undiscovered physical areas. The use of these virtual structures that connect pre-authored scenes on-the-fly allow VRoamer to (1) temporarily block users' passage, thus slowing them down while increasing VRoamer's insight into newly discovered physical areas, (2) prevent users from seeing changes beyond the current virtual scene, and (3) obfuscate the appearance of physical environments. VRoamer animates virtual objects to reflect dynamically discovered changes of the physical environment, such as people walking by or obstacles that become apparent only with closer proximity.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 22, 2019 4:47 PM (CDT)

Nvidia Releases "Creator Ready" RTX Drivers

Earlier this week, Nvidia rolled out a set of "creator ready" drivers that are compatible with consumer GPUs, but optimized for professional applications. This level of support is typically reserved for drivers that only work with pricey Quadro GPUs, but Nvidia says they've conducted "exhaustive multi-app testing" in programs like Adobe Premiere and After Effects. Support for this driver goes all the way back to Pascal cards, and extends to Nvidia's more affordable offerings like the GTX 1050 and the more recent 1660. Perhaps even more interestingly, Nvidia claims they've worked with a number of software vendors to leverage the raytracing and machine-learning muscle their RTX cards offer. Autodesk Arnold and Unreal Engine 4, for example, now support RTX accelerated rendering, and Redcine-X Pro seemingly uses Turing's updated video processing block to decode 8K video without taxing the CPU. Meanwhile, Lightroom uses "an extensively trained convolutional neural network to provide state-of-the-art image enhancing for RAW photographs." While I haven't tested Lightroom's new features myself, in my experience, neural networks can perform small miracles when processing images. Nvidia also claims the new driver features significant performance improvements in Photoshop, Premiere, Blender Cycles, and Cinema 4D.

"Creators are constantly faced with tight deadlines and depend on having the latest hardware and creative tools to complete their projects on time, without compromising quality," said Eric Bourque, senior software development manager at Autodesk. "We're excited that NVIDIA is introducing a Creator Ready Driver program because it will bring Arnold users an even higher level of support, helping them bring their creative visions to life faster and more efficiently." The first Creator Ready Driver is now available from NVIDIA.com or GeForce Experience. From GeForce Experience, you can switch between Game Ready and Creator Ready Drivers at any time by clicking the menu (three vertical dots in the top right corner). Creator Ready Drivers are supported for Turing-based GeForce RTX, GTX and TITAN GPUs, Volta-based TITAN V, Pascal-based GeForce GTX and TITAN GPUs, and all modern Quadro GPUs.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 22, 2019 8:57 AM (CDT)

Nvidia Skips Ampere at GTC 2019

Several news outlets seems to think Nvidia's GTC presentation was relatively longwinded and unexciting this year. The three-hour keynote reportedly featured some software announcements and a low power Jetson board, among other things, but didn't feature the 7nm Ampere GPUs many were expecting. EE Times says that the "unspoken message" at the presentation was that "Nvidia doesn't need to pre-announce a new and faster chip because it owns that software stack and channel today," and the emphasis on CUDA seemed to really drive that point home. However, in one of the more exciting parts of the presentation, Nvidia did highlight the Q2VKPT project we covered earlier this year. Nvidia's CEO seemed quite excited about the introduction of raytracing to Quake II, and they showed off some of the project's gameplay, which you can see below:

Presaging that future, Nvidia's chief scientist, Bill Dally, told reporters about a research project in optical chip-to-chip links. It targets throughput in terabits/second while drawing 2 picojoules/bit/s. In an initial implementation, 32 wavelengths will run at 12.5 Gbits/s each, with a move to 64 wavelengths doubling bandwidth in a follow-up generation. Dally predicted that copper links will start run out of gas as data rates approach 100 Gbits/s, already on many roadmaps for network switches. Progress in more power-efficient laser sources and ring resonators will enable the long-predicted shift, he said. If the future evolves as he believes, bleeding-edge GPUs may continue to skip an appearance at some Nvidia events. Attendees will have to hope that as the interconnects speed up, the keynotes don't get even longer.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 20, 2019 11:25 AM (CDT)

NVIDIA Could Tease Next-Gen 7nm Ampere at GTC 2019

It isn’t clear whether NVIDIA will have any surprises to share at next week’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC), but some speculate the company could reveal aspects of its next-generation architecture, "Ampere," which will purportedly be built on the 7nm node. TweakTown and TechSpot suggest it could be the right time to do so, as the luster of Volta and Turing continues to wear thin. The former predicts it won’t be a gaming part, however, suggesting "a new GPU architecture tease that will succeed Volta in the HPC/DL/AI market."

For now, NVIDIA has used the Ampere name for their future 7nm GPUs. If that's the case, the Ampere GPUs would bring power efficiency improvements, higher clock rates, and perhaps higher memory bandwidth. Now would be a good time for NVIDIA to make a big announcement, considering the company just had one of the worst fiscal quarters its ever had. Consumer and investor faith in the company is slipping, especially since the adoption of RTX technology has been much slower than expected.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 16, 2019 4:45 PM (CDT)

Man Spends a Week Inside VR

In spite of some growing pains associated with the technology, it seems that virtual reality and augmented reality will play a significant role in the future of society. But just what happens to people if they spend days, or even weeks, inside of VR/AR? One YouTuber decided to find out, as he strapped himesflf into a VR headset for 168 hours straight, and live streamed the whole thing. Check out the experiment below:

"I now dream in virtual reality."

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 15, 2019 8:19 AM (CDT)

VR Rhythm Game 'Beat Saber' Sells over 1 Million Copies

Beat Saber may have become the first VR title to sell more than 1 million copies. Beat Games co-founder and CEO Jaroslav Beck thinks the secret to the game's success is "It is super intuitive." He also credited his team for creating a game that didn't crash and didn't lead to motion sickness. "'The code is super polished,' Beck said." In addition to today's release of the paid DLC "Monstercat Music Pack," the developers are considering adding new genres of music to the game and more self-published free music. Beat Saber currently maintains a 97% positive approval rating on Steam.

Beat Saber surpassed the one million unit milestone in February, according to Beat Games co-founder and CEO Jaroslav Beck, who credited word-of-mouth for most of the game's success in a recent interview with Variety. "We did zero PR whatsoever," Beck said. "We didn't expect that it would blow up that crazy."

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 14, 2019 2:32 PM (CDT)

Fundamental Surgery Is a VR Medical Training Platform Featuring Haptics

Caution, the videos in this article show realistic simulations of surgery in VR using 3D models, so it is possibly NSFW. Billed as the "flight simulator for surgeons," FundamentalVR is pioneering the use of VR to create immersive training tools for the medical community. CEO Richard Vincent outlined how the company is using low cost hardware, haptics, and global distribution through its reduced-cost platform model to breakdown the boundaries of adoption. This will allow the company to put surgical training into the hands of surgeons that have never had access to it.
The Fundamental Surgery platform "combines virtual reality (VR) with cutting-edge haptics (the sense of touch) to create a scalable 'flight simulator' experience for trainee and qualified surgeons, allowing them to experience and navigate the same visuals, sounds and feelings they would during a real surgical procedures." The platform is equipment agnostic, compatible with any laptop, VR headset or haptic device such as the HaptX gloves combined with a 3DS Haptic arm demonstrated in the video below. Last year, Fundamental VR signed a strategic collaboration and joint development agreement with Mayo Clinic to jointly develop surgical VR simulation and education products.

"When it comes to surgical training simulations, a sense of touch is a game changer, but has traditionally only been possible with immobile equipment costing hundreds of thousands of dollars," said Richard Vincent, CEO, FundamentalVR. "The Fundamental Surgery platform delivers highly sophisticated tactile feedback at a fraction of the cost through a software approach that can work with a range of haptic devices. Our platform currently works with haptic arms, but is designed to evolve as hardware innovations allow new products such as HaptX Gloves to come to market. We are proud to work with industry leaders such as HaptX and are excited to demonstrate how HaptX Gloves integrated into our Surgical Haptics Intelligence Engine TM takes the sensation of surgery to an exciting new and natural level."

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 13, 2019 10:15 PM (CDT)

Nvidia's Freesync Monitor Support Tested

Nvidia recently released a driver update that adds support for Freesync monitors, but the GPU maker was quick to point out that "non-validated" displays could exhibit serious issues. However, Techspot put that claim to the test last January, and just followed up on it with a handful of new Freesync monitors from LG. Out of the 12 monitors they've tested so far, 11 have worked flawlessly, and the one that didn't only supports Freesync over HDMI, while Nvidia only supports the adaptive sync technology over Displayport.

As we said in the original article, we think it's safe to say if you purchase a new FreeSync model today that it will work fine with Nvidia GPUs. You shouldn't expect to see any graphical issues, whether you buy an LG monitor or a display from a different maker. Only the very early, older FreeSync monitors may have some issues. Thus our recommendation continues to be to select your next monitor on its merits, features and preference. If it's a FreeSync gaming monitor and you can save some money, that's great. GeForce GPU owners no longer you need to bother with G-Sync for getting proper variable refresh rate, unless that's the monitor you want for other factors as mentioned above. These results from a selection of LG monitors just reinforces that FreeSync gaming displays can and will perform perfectly.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 12, 2019 9:03 AM (CDT)

NVIDIA Acquires Mellanox for $6.9 Billion

NVIDIA has reached a definitive agreement to acquire Mellanox for $6.9 billion. NVIDIA will acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Mellanox for $125 per share in cash. NVIDIA and Mellanox are both known as high performance computing (HPC) industry leaders and their products are found in over 250 of the world's TOP500 supercomputers and every major cloud service provider. Mellanox is known for its high-performance interconnect technology called Infiniband and high-speed Ethernet products. "We share the same vision for accelerated computing as NVIDIA," said Eyal Waldman, founder and CEO of Mellanox. "Combining our two companies comes as a natural extension of our longstanding partnership and is a great fit given our common performance-driven cultures. This combination will foster the creation of powerful technology and fantastic opportunities for our people."

"The emergence of AI and data science, as well as billions of simultaneous computer users, is fueling skyrocketing demand on the world's datacenters," said Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA. "Addressing this demand will require holistic architectures that connect vast numbers of fast computing nodes over intelligent networking fabrics to form a giant datacenter-scale compute engine. "We're excited to unite NVIDIA's accelerated computing platform with Mellanox's world-renowned accelerated networking platform under one roof to create next-generation datacenter-scale computing solutions. I am particularly thrilled to work closely with the visionary leaders of Mellanox and their amazing people to invent the computers of tomorrow."

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 11, 2019 9:42 AM (CDT)

NVIDIA Ending Driver Support for 3D Vision, Mobile Kepler-Series GeForce GPUs

NVIDIA has published two new support entries revealing the fate of its 3D Vision technology and Kepler notebook GPUs. After Release 418 in April 2019, GeForce Game Ready Drivers will no longer support NVIDIA 3D Vision. ("Those looking to utilize 3D Vision can remain on a Release 418 driver.") Critical security updates for mobile Kepler-series GPUs will also cease by April 2020.

Game Ready Driver upgrades, including performance enhancements, new features, and bug fixes, will be available for systems utilizing mobile Maxwell, Pascal, and Turing-series GPUs for notebooks, effective April 2019. Critical security updates will be available on systems utilizing mobile Kepler-series GPUs through April 2020. Game Ready Driver upgrades will continue to be available for desktop Kepler, Maxwell, Pascal, Volta, and Turing-series GPUs.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 10, 2019 10:10 AM (CDT)

NVIDIA: RTX GPUs, High-Refresh-Rate Monitors Can Improve Your Kill-Death Ratio

If only to convince gamers to upgrade their GPUs and displays, NVIDIA has published new data supporting the obvious idea that better hardware improves player performance in Battle Royale titles such as Fortnite and Apex Legends. Essentially, players who can manage 144 fps score significantly higher than those limited to 60 fps: the company’s graphs suggest its RTX cards can increase K/D ratio by as much as 53%, while playing on 240 Hz and 144 Hz monitors can improve K/D ratio by 34% and 51%, respectively.

NVIDIA used more than a million sample points collected via anonymous GeForce Experience data, and then analyzed the data (which means no AMD cards). Specifically, NVIDIA is looking at player performance in two popular battle royale games: PUBG and Fortnite. How do you quantify player performance? NVIDIA looked at kill/death ratio and matched that up with number of hours played per week, then finally broke that down into graphics hardware and monitor refresh rate. NVIDIA limited its analysis to 1080p, which provides for the highest refresh rates and also serves to normalize things a bit.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 09, 2019 10:05 AM (CST)

Nintendo Launches Labo VR Kit

Following up on their immensely profitable Labo kits for the Switch, Nintendo just announced a new Labo kit designed for "sharable, simple, VR gaming experiences." The basic kit includes cutouts for VR Goggles and a VR blaster for $40, while the full package with a cardboard elephant, camera, bird, and wind pedal will set you back a whopping $80. Naturally, the internet isn't happy about how much Nintendo is charging for colored cardboard cutouts, but those pricey packages apparently include a license for Nintendo's new VR software as well. Thanks to cageymaru for the tip.

The inventive Toy-Con Garage mode - included as part of all Nintendo Labo software - returns with Nintendo Labo: VR Kit, offering basic programming tools for players to experiment with. More information about the experiences offered by Nintendo Labo: VR Kit will be revealed in the future. The Nintendo Labo: VR Kit - Starter Set + Blaster and complete Nintendo Labo: VR Kit will be available in stores on April 12.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 07, 2019 12:14 PM (CST)